Serving God Through Prayer and Fasting

Christians and anyone who has seen A Charlie Brown Christmas are quite familiar with chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke. I’m sure you are picturing Linus right now, security blanket in hand, telling Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about: the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who brings tidings of great joy to all people (Luke 2:10-11). This good news could be a blog post in itself (indeed, it’s the good news we give thanks for daily)! Nevertheless, I would instead like to draw your attention to three specific verses toward the end of Luke chapter 2.

In the midst of this pinnacle chapter in the Bible describing Jesus’ birth, we are introduced in verse 36 to Anna, a widow and prohetess. Anna had only been married seven years when she lost her husband and she thereafter dedicated her life to the Lord. Anna lived a long life (Bible scholars interpret verses 36-37 as Anna being either 84 or 104 years old) and following her husband’s passing, Anna “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37). This struck me, that Anna’s fasting and prayers were a service to God. 

What does serving God look like to you? Fasting and prayers may not be the first thing that comes to your mind because we often think of fasting and prayer as asking God to do something for us, rather than us doing something for God. Instead, we often view serving God as sacrificial actions for Him and others to share the Gospel and advance God’s Kingdom. Serving God can be going on a mission trip, cooking a meal for a sick friend, working in the church ministries, or passing out Gospel tracts. This view of serving God makes sense given that the term “service” means “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” 

But the Bible says that Anna “served God with fastings and prayers,” which we do not ordinarily think of as helping or doing work for God. So how does the Bible define service to God such that Anna’s fasting and prayers were a service to Him? The first and second commandments state that we “shall have no other gods” and shall not make or “serve” any idols (Exodus 20:3-5). Jesus speaks to this and notes that “no man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). While Jesus speaks specifically to the futility of trying to serve both God and mammon (money), his statement applies to any idol we create in our life. Apostle Paul urged believers in Romans 12:1 to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”  And in Colossians 3:23-24 Paul stated that “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men . . . for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

From this, we see that service to God means worshipping and submitting to Him alone and giving Him our time, attention, praise, and devotion. God wants every aspect of our life and to be in every aspect of our life. He wants our all. He wants our heart. And he cares for our heart like no else can, the way only our Creator can. By giving God our life, we serve Him. We commune and have a relationship with Him that we were created to have. 

Anna’s fasting and prayers did just that. Anna devoted her life to the Lord and gave Him her whole heart. Her fasting and prayers were a service to the Lord because she was submitted to and worshipped God alone. Her fasting signified that she was dependent on God to satisfy all her needs, not any physical pleasures of this world to satisfy temporary physical needs. Her prayers signified that she believed in God and believed that He heard and would answer her prayers.  

So pray and fast like Anna. We do not need to feel pressure to do grand gestures to serve God. Nor do we need to think our prayers are too much for God or a burden or annoyance to Him. He wants to hear from you and delights to do so (Proverbs 15:8). And He is all powerful. No prayer is too big for God! He simply wants our hearts. Give God your heart, devotion, and worship. Give Him your all. Your fasting and prayers are no little matter but are a service to God. Serve Him today.